Ipsos Acquires Synovate after out-of-court deal

By Isaac Korir / March 12, 2018

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) has allowed Ipsos to acquire Synovate Kenya more than six years after the deal was struck following an agreement in settlement of a row, which the party was suspect in violating the competition law.

In 2014, Ipsos, a French company sued the CAK and the Director of Public Prosecutions after it was noted for failing to follow the law while acquiring Synovate back in 2011.

The prolonged legal spat meant that the acquisition of Synovate, the Kenyan unit, remained in procedural limbo.

According to the CAK director general, Wang’ombe Kariuki, the matter was settled out of court after a penalty was paid and a resubmission of their application was approved.

Mr. Kariuki, earlier on January 10, said that the authority had decided not to include the acquisition from the rations of antitrust law as the transaction would not affect the competition negatively even though the 816 million shillings turnover in 2016 breached the minimum threshold for mandatory notification. He, however, did not disclose the fines levied on Ipsos.

The acquisition of Synovate by Ipsos from the British firm, Aegis, was in a deal worth 525 million pounds, which is approximately 75 billion shillings, at the current exchange rate, to build the world’s third-largest market research company.

The deal landed in trouble locally when the CAK said Ipsos had not sought approval, which set the company up for heavy fines and potential jail terms.

The argument by Ipsos was that the competition law and regulations had not been implemented by the time it sought to acquire Synovate.  It further claimed that it had notified CAK of the merger’s intention in December 2011. This is the dispute that has been settled out of court.